Halfway to Paradise

Whispers From Heaven

Who Gets to Marry Max?

You Made Me Love You by Neesa Hart
(Avon, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-380-80789-0
Sometimes you just canít explain why you arenít in love. No, that doesnít have anything to do with the plot. Iím just trying to figure out why I didnít fall in love with this book. Despite the title, it just didnít make me love it.

Eli Liontakis is a scientist, a world-renowned one. Heís young, heís sexy, and heís currently unattached. He also has a motherless young daughter, Grace, that he wants to get to know better and to help. Heís willing to teach at a small college in Georgia if his daughter will be taught there at a summer program. He knows who wants to teach Grace: Liza Kincaid. Liza, who refuses to perform in public, is a magnificent dancer and he is intrigued with her.

Liza is slightly annoyed, charmed and stunned by Eli. He demands she come to New York to meet him during one of the busiest times in Lizaís year, he pushes her to take on Grace, and then he intrigues her with a hint of his past. Liza owes her happiness and stability to the school at which she teaches. She loves her students and is interested in Grace. She and Grace reach an understanding and Liza helps her to communicate with her father.

Soon Eli is embroiled in a potentially ugly custody battle with his ex-wifeís parents. Rumors fly and Liza is pulled into taking sides. That highlighted one of my problems. I didnít see what Eli sees in Liza. She is supposed to be passionate and concerned. Generally she seemed cautious and less than enthusiastic about what she seems forced to do by others. Her past life is as tragic as Eliís, though more private, but she never seems to totally come out of her slump. And apparently they do make love and enjoy it, but even then she doesnít seem too enthused about being with him.

Eli should be fascinating. I enjoyed a scene showing Eli teaching a young student and admired his patience, given that his understanding of the subject was so far advanced from the studentís. But although I was more fascinated with him than with Liza, heís often too demanding and insensitive. He loves his daughter and fights for what he wants, but he didnít totally enchant me the way he was supposed to.

Even the setting - the small school that cares and nurtures its students - didnít do it. The petty backbiting and political maneuvers behind the scenes overwhelms its charm. That bickering seemed realistic, but didnít make the place endearing. I kept wondering why Liza stuck around as an adult.

Over all the story had potential, but the characters and the plot just couldnít keep my interest. Part of the problem may be that the story wasnít big enough for the size book it needed to fill. The tension between father and daughter, hero and heroine, in-laws and parent, good school administrators and bad, just wasnít sharp enough. Iíll go as far as saying the author made me like the story but love - no.

--Irene Williams

@ Please tell us what you think! back Back Home